Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Ethics Man

Ask your patient: what is most important to you, and why?

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: (Published 20 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2207
  1. Daniel Sokol, medical ethicist and barrister
  1. 12 King’s Bench Walk, London
  1. daniel.sokol{at}
    Follow Daniel on Twitter @DanielSokol9

Clinicians should be taught some mediation techniques to apply in meetings with patients

I have just spent a week training to be a mediator, along with 16 other barristers.

Mediation is a confidential process in which participants explore potential solutions to their problems with the help of a neutral mediator who facilitates the discussion.

In the field of clinical negligence, prompted by judicial encouragement of “alternative dispute resolution” instead of going to court, the number of trials is decreasing and the number of mediations is increasing. Mediations are quick, relatively cheap, and less stressful.

Mediating does not come easily to barristers. Our instinct is to give practical advice. That is what we are paid to do. Sitting at the head of the table, basking in the attention of all present, …

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